In our last blog, we discussed water softeners, and this brings us today’s topic. We’ve been getting a lot of service calls lately regarding Baxi boilers. These are wall-hung “combi” boilers, designed and built in the UK, to provide hot water as well as in-floor heating. These units are common in Calgary communities like Hawkwood, Edgemont, Shawnessy, Midnapore, Evanston, Kincora, and other areas built in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some new apartment and condominium complexes even have them installed in every suite. The most common model we see in Calgary is the Baxi Luna 310 FI.
Baxi and Soft Water
Baxi boiler systems are great, efficient technology, popular for their straightforward installation and ease of use… but they are designed for soft water. If not paired with a water softener, mineral deposits will damage the heat exchanger over time, reducing efficiency and eventually leading to failure. Even with a water softener, an improperly maintained water system can result in chlorine damage to the boiler’s gaskets. These water requirements are clearly specified in the Baxi manual, and hard water damage is specifically excluded from the warranty.
Calgary’s Water Hardness
Water hardness refers to calcium and magnesium content. Water qualifies as “soft” when it contains less than 75 mg of calcium carbonate per litre. In 2015, Calgary’s water supply ranged from 140 to 238 mg/l. The value does vary seasonally (tending to be higher in the winter) and regionally (the north side Bearspaw supply is generally softer than the south side Glenmore reservoir) but all the values reported by the City Of Calgary are on the higher side of the scale.
And so, the Problems Began
We started noticing an uptick in service calls for Baxi boilers back in 2005. Astonishingly, in Calgary’s building boom after the 1980s, some homebuilders and condominium developers installed these boilers without water softeners, and those chickens are now coming home to roost! Many Baxis are collapsing and leaking… some after only six or seven years in service.
Baxi Maintenance… Sooner is Better
If you have one of these heating systems, at Instant Plumbing we have you covered. Not only do we have a parts channel from the manufacturer, but we have two expert technicians from the UK (Jason and Grant) who each have vast experience with Baxi systems. Their expertise may help you avoid having to replace the entire boiler if yours is troubled, and they can definitely help you avoid such trouble in the future.
In the end it all comes down to maintenance. Your boiler and water softener should be checked and cleaned on a yearly basis to forestall expensive repairs later. As we like to say around here, quality pays– it doesn’t cost.